Perseverance and Thinking Outside The Box- What My Exceptional Child Has Taught Me

Two days into the school year and Michael is already teaching me how to be more patient, take chances and be clear in what it is I want to do. Why? Because with all the struggles he has, he still pushes forward. He has moments of discouragement as we all do, but he keeps looking for the positive and will express his frustration when he can’t cope. He will often sound temporarily overwhelmed, but with a kind word from Dad or I he will perk up and say, “really, you believe in me?” Yes, we do. I tell him. You can do anything. Just breathe. Go easy on yourself. Ask for help. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all make them, adults too.

What has really amazed me with Michael, is how perceptive he is as to where he is struggling. He would often tell me when his hyperactivity was out of control, that he needed help to learn to stop and think before acting. I knew the previous medication he was on was not working anymore. It had been prescribed for aggression and he was becoming more aggressive. Since coming off it the aggression had gotten better, but his hyperactivity had become out of control. A new medication is helping a lot now, and I am seeing my happy child focused and more in control. He is able to use the strategies to often think before acting. I am seeing a little more stress in other areas so we are fine tuning, but it is amazing how even when he gets scared he is able to think outside the box and figure out what he needs. In watching Michael do this, it has reminded me that when I have been most successful in life is when I have learned to do this very thing. So now, I am doing my best to think outside the box always in my personal and professional life. You will always find a solution if you apply a little more creativity to a lot of life’s so-called problems.

Exceptional Parents, how has your child surprised you by thinking outside the box? Remember, if we want them to learn to believe in themselves, we first have to believe in them being able to solve their problems with a little help from us. We also have to learn to believe in ourselves being able to solve problems by thinking outside the box. Together, we will all change the world together. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

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How To Hone Control-Yours and Your Exceptional Child’s

So for many parents the beginning of another school year has begun or will be beginning. What should parents take into this school year and teach their child to take in? Well, from personal experience, I have to say that the first thing both parent and child need is control. Control of their own reactions, their child’s reaction and how to come out calm and composed at the end.  This is not always an easy feat, as sometimes parent and child can both be frazzled by the prospect of a new school year, but it is utterly necessary. Necessary that both the parent and child accept that there will be ups and downs that they will have to deal with. Accept that they need to find the necessary tools to be on top of stress at all times, and accept that when they are not, they need to ask for help, and finally accept that sometimes it is by giving up control that one regains it.

I have learned so much from Michael this summer about control, particularly how to help him control his aggression and anxiety. Other summers it has been more about hyperactivity. This summer has been the summer to master aggression control. Hyperactivity only started to come into the picture in a major way during the last two weeks or so. What Michael has showed me, is that how I handle my anger and impulses can have a pretty direct impact on showing him to handle his. This is not to say that I am responsible for when he fails to handle his aggression or anxiety. This has taken me time as a parent to realize. If he truly is thrown for a loop, I step in and give strategies for the next time. However, I now realize I am not responsible for saving my child. He is in the end. This does not mean I don’t try with therapy measures, professionals, and medication, but that after doing all of this, I make sure that Michael has the tools to realize on his own what he needs to do.

In the last week alone, I have seen much improvement in Michael’s ability to handle stress, anxiety and coping. I have seen, once again,  a new medication, hard work, and perseverance help Michael push through his fears. I have been immensely impressed by his hard work.

Exceptional Parents, how do you teach your Exceptional Child about self-control? I’m sure it is by first learning to control your most difficult emotions-anxiety, anger and fear. Once you have found ways to handle these emotions, you can then show your child what they need to do to cope with their out of control thoughts and words. Remember, there will be moments that you fail. So will your child. Instead of beating yourself up, learn from these moments and become stronger using techniques that will help you defeat anger, anxiety and aggression. Until next time .

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

Back To School- How To Handle Your Exceptional Child’s Fears And Questions

So for us tomorrow is back to school. As usual, Michael is nervous and does not want to go back. This is in sharp contrast to three years ago when he was excited to go back to school. Now, as he says, I don’t like school as I have to work before I play. Before, I played all the time. Still, I know him. Once he gets into the routine of the day, sees the friends who have followed him from previous years into his new class, as well as make new friends, he will enjoy school and many of the subjects he does like- music, art, science and gym.

I am excited, because as most parents agree, our kids need the structure of school. Two months at home is a break for the adults and some kids who are exceptional, but most after about a month need the return of routine and a semblance of work, play and socializing. Unless parents are able to home school and have time to book play dates for their child, this is challenging to say the least . I have seen Michael flourish and grow at school. He has learned many new things. He has made new friends. He has also encountered obstacles which he has learned to solve and troubleshoot. I will be so excited to hear him share his first day of school with her tomorrow.

Sometimes though, the first day of school does not always go so smoothly. How could parents help their child threw it and handle their fears and questions?

  1. Let your child talk: This is important, whether verbally or not. Let them tell you what they fear. They will know they are not alone.
  2. Make sure they sleep well the night before: A good night’s rest can do wonders to handling stress. As much as possible, make sure they sleep well before school.
  3. Remind them how everyone is afraid: If they are scared to go back, remind them that all kids have the same fears. No one is really alone.
  4. Tell them you can’t wait to hear all about their day: Once kids know they have an audience, they will be very excited to share news with you.  Also, have a special first day back to school routine in place.
  5. Remind them that you have their back:  Lastly, remind them that no matter what, you are at the top off their team making sure teachers and everyone understands them.

Exceptional Parents, how do you your children react when it is time to go back to school? Remember, always be encouraging, positive, and tell them to take things one step at a time. If they sense they have you in their pocket, anything is possible. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

How Letting Go of Control Can Be Healing For You And Your Exceptional Child

I am someone for whom control had been a huge thing growing up. It came as a result of suffering from anxiety as an adolescent and young adult. I always felt like I never really had choices and control over things in my life, unless it was superficial. To some degree, this was true. To another degree, I did not feel confident speaking up about my anxiety or discomfort too much. Don’t get me wrong. My parents were very caring and involved, but I would feel guilty for talking about my problems and complaining. So I think that this was why as I reached adulthood, I strove to push myself to do all the things I was scared to do when I was younger and I knew that I could be in charge of  the majority of how things unfolded. This led to me thinking at one point I could control pretty much everything, and if I could not, I would be a failure.

Enter motherhood. I had pretty much taken a lot of these false notions with me. I also thought that I had to be perfect, do things perfectly with my child, and that if things weren’t happening exactly like they were supposed to, I was a failure as a mother. I put so much pressure on myself to control everything about raising Michael in those early days- what he ate, how long he slept, how he played. And of course when he was failing to meet milestones due to nothing I did, I, the controller, blamed myself. It took therapy, time, and a lot of ways to learn self-love to get to the place I am at today. I realize I am a good Mom who needs to learn how to relax once in a while and not try and control everything my son is and does. I still sometimes forget and Michael and I will inevitably have words. Then, always it works out in the end. He will learn from his mistake, I will feel bad that I blew things out of proportion, and I will see how the universe is teaching me again to go easy on myself. That is so much easier to do with other people. With me, I am getting there, but I have my days when I still need the reminder.

It’s not that I don’t want him to learn from mistakes and rush in to fix things, (that was something I did when he was a baby, but stopped doing a long time ago), but I see he is doing something like asserting himself and making a mistake or trying to push my buttons over something small and I feel this nagging in my gut. I am not in control. Yes, hello, comes the voice back. No one is. No one person can control another person, thing or event. Even a parent cannot control what her child does. She can set up positive and negative consequences. She can set up rules. But it is up to the child to either make a good or bad choice. There are some days I find this easier to handle than others. On the harder days, I just remind myself to release my control over people and things that I cannot influence. Now, this is not the same thing as not having boundaries and rules for your child. But what it means is that you let them either follow the rules or break them. Then you can say, that was their choice, just like it was your choice to make the rules and then enforce the consequences. What I’ve learned about myself is that there is still some releasing over control that I need to do in order to not get stressed and I always parent better when I choose this way to proceed.

Exceptional Parents, how big are you on control? It’s important to be realistic and remember that no one person can truly control another, even a parent and child nor should they want to.  Yes, there needs to be rules and boundaries with children, but they also need to be able to have wiggle room to learn and make mistakes. Parents need to be able to give them that room, as well as give themselves that room as parents to grow. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

Staying Calm and Moving On- What Every Exceptional Parent Needs To Remember

Ok. I lost it. I know. My kid has a hard time self-regulating and I need to remember that and always keep it together myself. But sometimes, I can’t. I have moments when I too am stressed. I  am a parent of a child whose brain is off in so many different directions that I often feel like I am raising four different boys. I say four as he now has four official diagnoses: autism, ADHD, Type 1 Diabetes and OCD. They all affect the way he processes and takes in stimuli, positively and negatively. His brain is an incredible machine. I honestly look at this child and think, he is incredible, but sometimes hard for his neuro typical anxious Mom to be around. Yet I do have my wild side too. That creative wild side understands him like no one else does. The writer side of me that is fascinated by people and places and things that function outside of the norm.  The organized side of me that wants to bring people together and make connections. The helper side of me that feels I have been given so much, I must give back. Pay it forward. That is so important to me and a lesson I have done my best to impart to Michael. Yet, as always, he has given me so much more. Even in the moments when I lose my parenting cool, I realize this child is here to teach me patience. When I feel angry that I can’t control or stop his impulse actions that cost him things I think, no, you are here to show him boundaries and a better way of being. When I am scared, I realize I am here to teach Michael you can be scared and pull through. You can use strategies, ask for help, never stop believing in the people around you, and you can move forward with purpose.

You see, Michael thinks I am showing him these things and in a way that’s true. My little guy is struggling with a lot. As his educator once said, “he is a lot of energy in one little body.” That is true. But with all the pain and hardship he has gone through and survived, he has thrived. With all the pain and hardship I have gone through as his mother, I have survived and thrived. Michael has continued to mold me, make me open to differences and different ways of being and thinking. He has shown me a whole other world that I never knew existed. The world of neurodiversity-people who see the world, our world that we take for granted, in a completely different way than the rest of us see it. It is not always easy. But it is worth it. All children, with their challenges and goodness are worth it. Parents of exceptional kids know our kids have their moments when the excel and fail. It’s important that we are there to praise and catch them when they fall. We must be strong. We must persevere. We must remind them that their brain and the way they view the world is necessary, vital, to share with the rest of us. We need to be enlightened. There are different ways of being and seeing the world. Special kids give society that. It’s important as parents we recognize where to support them and where they can support us to spread the message of hope that all kinds of brains and ways of being can and should make up the world we live in.

Exceptional Parents, how are you learning about your calm and transmitting that to your child? It’s SO hard as a parent to do that when you are tired and discouraged. That is why the first step is always to recharge yourself first. Do things that make you feel whole and positive. Only then will you be able to see your child’s gift, their talent, and what they bring to the world with the beauty of their existence.  Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism, ADHD, OCD and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

Navigating Exceptional Stay/Vacations With New Issues

So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. There is a reason. Our family has been on a sort of vacation/stay cation and well, it’s been tough. Very tough. Never in all our summers has one been this challenging for us as a family.  Ok, the end of last year kind of takes the cake with Michael’s  type 1 diabetes diagnosis, but that was only at the end of the summer. This year, well, I knew it would be hard. Michael’s aggression had come to head and once he was off the medication that was controlling some of the hyperactivity.  His energy level has become high too. Also he and Dad are struggling to get along as Dad’s energy level does not  match Michael’s for various reasons and Michael has hit puberty. Yep. It’s been crazy for all of us. I have felt caught in the middle between my boys, feeling for Dad’s challenges and Michael’s as well as my own feelings of stress and helplessness on how we can all get along together. We have had our good moments, but there have been many more stressful moments as Michael sees Dad and I at different emotional stages in our lives.

Thank goodness for the good therapy team we have as well as support from family and friends. This has helped me through the summer as a family, knowing that with time, changes that are in the works, and patience with myself, Michael and Dad we will move forward to a happier place. This patience has meant that I have learned to be gentle with myself. I have learned to say no to doing certain thing where my energy was not present. I have learned to take time for me to unwind at night even if it’s late by reading, a bath or writing. This has been my solace and my comfort, and how self-care has helped me. I also got the brainchild idea this week of asking Michael’s favorite babysitter to take him to the park after dinner so I could take that time to catch up on errands that are hard to do with Michael this year, like groceries and back to school shopping. Don’t get me wrong. He LOVES  going to stores, but his hyperactivity is unpredictable and exhausting for me to handle on some days. Where I can simplify, I am learning to simplify for all of us. On another note, my fiction writing has exploded this summer. Whether because of family chaos or in spite of it, I have finished a first draft of a YA fantasy series I am writing, as well as started working on two other fiction stories. This has also been what helped me look at the summer in a balanced way for me-some good moments, some tough ones. With Michael, I have done the same. He has excelled at camp and at sports this summer as well as getting back into cooking. These are the things that have kept me going.

Exceptional Parents, how have your family vacation/stay cations been? Have you encountered more or less obstacles with your Exceptional Child and/or family? If so, take heart. You will get there. Pain and struggle are often necessary parts of growth in all families. In exceptional ones, it’s important to keep in mind that every age is a new stage of growth through positive and negative experiences. If you find yourself repeating old patterns of thought or behavior, stop and pause. See what you can change in how you relate to your family and yourself. Take time to see the good moments, as they are always there hidden in the background even on tough days. And most importantly, do yourself, your child and your partner/family the biggest favor you can, take care of you every day in small ways. Recharge your batteries! That will be the best way to take a positive step as a family and grow in a healthy direction. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

How Our Children Strengthen Us And What We Need To Remember On Our Parenting Journeys

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“You are amazing with him. You are redirecting him when he is inappropriate. I work with special needs kids.  I completely understand.”

This was the opening line of a Mom sitting near Michael and I in the waiting room to see his pediatrician for a follow up visit on our tumultuous year handling aggression and hyperactivity as well as his diabetes. Michael had been commenting on how much he likes her legs, as he is fascinated by women’s legs and will say this now in puberty without worry about consequences, along with other hyperactive behavior. I understand this, but have been trying to redirect him to more appropriate ways to handle his feelings.There have been many ups and downs since last summer, but this week, there have been many more ups. Still, as I have been blogging this week,  Michael’s hyperactivity and lack of impulse control has been VERY high.

He always had a hard time waiting in lines, doctors appointments and at amusement parks. Now that he is off medication for aggression that was not working, his impulsivity had no medical help, so to speak. He was happy, silly and as he has entered puberty, checking out women’s legs. He has always had a fascination with legs, and now will openly stare at women in capri pants and comment on their legs out loud. He will smile and try and talk to them too. It is cute in a way, but also highly embarrassing and inappropriate. I have been handling it by both trying to calmly discourage it by asking him to keep up with me and not stop, as well as try and ignore the staring. But this in the office could not be ignored. Not knowing this woman’s background, I was worried, so out loud in a calm voice I told Michael that I knew it was hard for him to wait and that he was off his old medication, (signs to the person that my child is not trying to be rude), but that he must stop trying to get her attention, talk so loudly, and try and be silly with standing up. He also had a little video game with him and I repeatedly directed him to watch it. To no avail. Dad was waiting near the intercom on the other side of the room, to hear when we would be called to see the doctor. When this woman identified herself and told me that she was impressed how calm I was, I thanked her for her kind words and patience, and in that moment realized I’d come a long way in the last little while, including the last year. I was patient. I was understanding of my child. I was trying to show him compassion while also teaching him how to be appropriate in the world.

 

Then, entering the doctor’s office, Dad and I had our questions for the pediatrician as well as our update since the last visit six months ago.  Dad mentioned our difficulties as did I, as well as the good moments. When he talked about the difficulties, he mentioned how I handled most of them, being the parent who is with Michael the most. I got my second surprise of the way as the doctor commended me for my calm demeanor and the “I don’t know how you do it, you are amazing” comment. I simply answered, Thank you, but I just do. He’s my son. All my Mom friends do the same for their kids.” Wow, I thought. The Universe sent me these two people today to remind me that I was reaching Michael in a positive way.  Although there were family dynamics that need improving, and trust me we are working on those, I was complimented today by these two women for a reason. God is speaking to me. I am doing something right and people see it. I need to see it and acknowledge it.

It’s not easy being an exceptional parent. You realize your child is exceptional and they are the ones struggling to fit in in a world that is foreign to them, yet until they can really advocate for themselves, you are the one who needs to do a lot of the heavy lifting for them. You need to be strong. You need to be positive. You need to show them hope, strength, resilience. Then, a surprising thing happens. You develop hope, strength and resilience just when you thought life could wipe the floor with you. You become your own advocate. You start to change the way you see your own life, even  separate from your child. Yes, it’s not always easy. There is stress, personal and maybe professional. You don’t have a lot of personal time or time for relationships. Maybe you have money issues. Maybe not. But, you start to see, if you have your health,  a passion for something you can call your own, family and friends around you that love and support you and make you laugh, you are blessed. Even through the hard days and nights, you can pass this on to your child, and show them that they are a gift to themselves, to you, and to the world. And it all starts with one or two people reminding you that you are amazing on a day when you are worried you are not getting what your child needs.

Exceptional Parents, what strength have you gained from your child? Yes, even when we make mistakes as parents or feel weak, we are our child’s strength as much as they are ours. Other people around us will see we are working hard to teach our child to be the best they can be, and we need to take that in and remind ourselves that as challenging as our children are for themselves and us, that challenge is preparing both of us for further growth. There is a purpose for them. There is a purpose for us. We need to keep growing together, and remember as hard as things get, we need to stay positive for our kids, for ourselves and for those around us. Reach out and connect with other parents if you feel yourself losing your hope and belief in you or your child. Your community will be there to remind you that you are doing work of the spirit that is necessary for everyone to grow stronger and better. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

Working With Your Exceptional Child’s Strengths Instead Of Their Weaknesses

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So I think I’ve said before what a rough time it’s been for Michael and us since he has gotten off his medication prescribed for aggression. He has become less aggressive and happier than he was on the medication, a dream, but his hyper activity has gone through the roof. I did not know how much the medication was helping him self-regulate his impulses and some careless behaviors. Now we are all in the middle of dealing with a happy, but hyperactive and impulsive child who has a difficulty calming himself down on all fronts. That is the difficult part of the last two weeks. Now for the beautiful things.

As I’ve said before, Michael is laughing and affectionate again. Michael is singing, dancing and listening to music again,  though he will get carried away with the dancing getting silly and inappropriate. No matter, he is more like himself these days. He is also receptive to using the strategies he has learned to control aggression and impulsivity, as long as Dad and I are presenting things in a calm and happy or level manner. The second we lose it, he does too. I am choosing to see this as a strength though. This gives me hope that he will go back to the happy kid he was WITH strategies all the time, as long as we show him we believe in him. So what I am doing now is focusing on his strengths-the way he is handling his diabetes, his new interest in basketball and increased interest in sports in general in the last three months, his interest in reading, singing and his conscience. He always had it, but lately he is genuinely sad after he calms down when he behaves in a negative way and will apologize. This is huge improvement in his empathy. He is also sad about a severe phobia that has been paralyzing him all summer. He is anxious to fix it, and accepting help from our Educator as well as future possible medication from his psychiatrist. He really needs the medication/therapy combination, though as a parent I hope we find the best medication that does not have too many side effects. I don’t want my child disappearing in it.

I am proud of how far he has come, and even though Michael is still struggling at handling himself appropriately, he has changed a lot since the beginning of the summer. So have Dad and I as we parent him in a new way, and learn from our parenting mistakes  in how we view his challenges. I am learning to see his challenges as I see my own. They are opportunities to grow and become stronger. We do not let him ‘cop out’ on himself and use his different brain as a way to excuse his challenges in regulating. We tell him-you are smart, you can control this. We have help for you. We are there for you. You can do this, but you have to do the work. Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

Exceptional Parents, how do you work with your Exceptional Child’s strengths? It’s so much easier to look at what they are doing wrong or are weaker at. The system we live in tends to do that too, and of course, it’s the parents who cry that things are terrible that get the help. While it’s important to acknowledge when your child and your family is struggling and get that help, (I am a HUGE believer in doing that),  you must also learn to celebrate your child’s victories in the hard moments. Celebrate when they tackle a difficult area of their life, take on a new hobby, or ask you for help, or even show remorse for bad actions. This means your child is learning and will make the inroads to mental and physical health sooner than you think. Above all, tell your child every day that no matter what they do, you love them and know they can do anything they set their mind to. It will make all the difference to their progress and yours as their parent and advocate. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

 

The Art of Sleep And How It Can Fix Your Relationship With Your Exceptional Child

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So I hit rock bottom last Friday night as a Mom. Michael’s behavior had been progressively getting more impulsive and hyperactive now that he was off his medication for aggression that had dulled an important side of his personality. My son was not smiling, did not have a lot of energy and was putting on weight. However, I was not prepared for the pre medicated Michael to emerge that quickly and emerge he did. I’d been handling the stress by staying up late pretty much for a month to have “me time”, to write, and to have personal space. This was all wonderful, but it came at a big price-the price was my sleep.

Yes, sleep dear parents. We yearn for sleep when our little ones wake us up at night to eat and be changed. And then we yearn for sleeping in. And as they get older, it usually gets easier, but not always. When your child has additional anxiety and behavior challenges, it wears you out in ways you may not even realize until the end of the day when you say silently to yourself, “go to sleep so I can have some peace.” You know what I mean! You want to sleep at night, but you know you need your adult down time to be the best parent and human being you can. The thing is though, that when you sleep less, your patience runs out. I know this. I tell other parents this, but I fought it in myself this summer until, low and behold, my patience expired last Friday night. Everything became a battle with Michael from the time I picked him up at camp. He was not any worse or challenging than he has been this summer. It was just the adding up of his challenges with my frustration and sleep deprivation. When Dad came home and it all exploded in his face,  he took over and took Michael for his nightly park outing to burn off the excess energy and I went to lie down in the bedroom. I did not actually fall asleep till close to ten pm, my usual bedtime when I am not burning the midnight oil, but the rest, oh the rest was better than anything I’d had in awhile. That’s when I realized, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Why didn’t I admit I needed sleep sooner?

As parents, especially Moms, we tend to put our own needs last, below everyone’s. Sleep is the first thing to go. Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t stay up late if it helps you. I am a self-confessed night owl, and though I tend to get up early to get a head start on my boys, (even though Michael now sleeps in, yeah!), I still find I do my best work and thinking at night. So it’s all good if I go to bed a little later most weeks. But I was reminded again at the end of last week, that when my thoughts start becoming more negative, I feel irritable and impatient, it is my body’s way of telling me to go to bed early for a few nights. And if I’ve been exercising and doing everything else I usually do to feel energized and don’t, sleep is what is lacking.

I used to find this unproductive to the rest of my life, but guess what? If you are yelling, have no energy, and are stressed to the max, you are no good to your child, yourself or anyone around you, right? The first thing I noticed when I got up Saturday morning, was that even when Michael had his challenging moments, Buddha Mom was back. That is, the Mom who didn’t react and make the problem worse. And why was she back? The body that housed her had rested. Interestingly, Saturday my body gave me a message to sleep early again. I had a massive allergy attack. And Sunday. Wow! Patience again. I truly was reminded how sleep can make a big difference.

So, how can you prioritize sleep in a busy life? Here are some tips:

  1. Go to bed an hour early for a few nights.
  2. Try grabbing an early afternoon cat nap.
  3. If your child is young and napping, try lying down when they nap. Even a rest is good if you don’t actually sleep.
  4. Having some “me time” set aside in the day. A ten or fifteen minute pause with your coffee or tea.
  5. Set the alarm early and then stay in bed for about fifteen minutes resting. Say a prayer or meditate. It is very refreshing and calming.

 

Exceptional Parents, where does sleep rate on your priority scale? Remember, in order to be at your best, you need to be balanced in all areas of your life-physical, mental and spiritual. Sleep will help with all of these and restore to you the greatest power of all, your serenity which you can then pass on to your child. This will help you both through the challenging moments of exceptional family life. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

 

 

 

 

How My Exceptional Child Showed Me How To #TakeTheMaskOff

I am very impressed with the whole neurodiversity movement as a movement to show the world that kids with autism, ADHD, and any other so-called disability just have different brains and lots to offer the world if it gives them a chance. I have also learned how I, as a Mom of a neurodiverse child with a different brain and view of the world, have been guilty of masking. In the early days of Michael’s autism diagnosis, I was worried about his rocking and obvious physical movements. I was worried it would alert negative attention to him and get him labeled in a deviant way. I was wrong. Yes, people asked why he did that. People were curious. And many knew about autism. Some more than others. I am still overwhelmed by the people who “get” Michael in a way that took me time to get him. Sometimes they are people who are neurodiverse, of course. Other times though, they are people with their own challenges who just understand a kid who thinks outside of the box. When I started seeing more of myself in Michael, it both excited and frightened me. Wow. Now I had a responsibility to try and understand his brain which was different from mine, but yet, not all that different. I have anxiety. I sometimes shy away from people and talk too much, or not enough. I also felt different inside growing up. But back to Michael and this whole incredible movement of people who want the world not to regard them as less than, but as capable, in their own way.

Masking, at least from what I understand it to be, is pretending to “pass” and be something you are not, not autistic, not with ADHD, not with anything else. In other words, assimilate with the “normal” or “neuro-typical” people,  by behaving the same as them or not standing out. People who are exceptional can do this, but at a price. I have seen it in my own child, and it pains me. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being different. I proudly tell people Michael has autism and talk about the other ways his brain works differently, and I make sure to say that though it is sometimes challenging for his Dad and I to understand him, we respect him and want him to do what he needs to do to be the person he was created to be and do what he was meant to do here on earth.  I’d like to say I was always so enlightened to have practiced this, but no I was not. I tried to get him to “pass” as a baby, and when he did not as he got older, I did not venture out too far from our immediate family and special needs community.

As Michael has gotten older, he has done the venturing himself and taken me with him. I found myself telling him in hushed tones, “don’t stim too much with your toy. People will think you are being aggressive.” “This is the way to act so you don’t draw attention to yourself.”  “People with autism and people without share the world together and you can’t always expect them to understand you honey.” This was my fear talking. Fear of Michael getting bullied for being different, especially in light now of intense anxiety and other hyperactivity issues. It was also my fear of not being able to protect him and advocate for his uniqueness and amazing brain and abilities. Then, as usual, Michael surprised me with doing what I think I had  originally been prepating him for, and didn’t know it. Michael has started educating others about his autism and diabetes and other challenges. He explains to kids at parks why he stims. Today he shared a story at camp where kids asked him questions about his fidget toy and diabetes supplies. Michael went on to tell them about his autism, diabetes and suspected ADHD. He told them why he stims and why he carries the toy. They were interested. Some kids did make some negative comments, but a boy in the group who has a brother with autism said, “hey guys, leave him alone .People with autism need to stim. It helps them. It’s all good.” Wow. I also need to mention that he does not have a shadow or companion at the camp he is at now. This is the first year we have tried this, and he is doing well. He is literally out there in the world on his own, and I could not be more proud of how he is starting to advocate for himself. This is happening while he is struggling with coming to terms with so many other things.

After some difficult moments tonight, Michael shared this story with me and I felt humbled and in awe of him. He is so strong. I told him that I was so proud of how he is telling the world who he is. Yes, there have been moments he has tried to use his autism to get things his way, ” (and that will be another blog post) :), but tonight he showed me how important it is for people with autism to take that mask off. Yes, not everyone is comfortable to do it right away, but as parents and caregivers of special kids, we need to make the world see them not as disabled or less than, but as the capable individuals they are. The world needs people with autism and people with autism need to be able to be themselves at all times.

Exceptional Parents, do you embrace who your Exceptional Child is? Do you let them take the mask off in public as well as private or worry what people will say? It’s a process as a parent and as someone with an exceptional brain will tell you. It comes with time, patience, and humility. Be open to reading blogs and articles from people who have autism. Try and understand their world as they are working so hard to understand yours. Help society accept all differences as beautiful. Together, we’ll make the world a wonderful place. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.